It’s beautiful outside today!  The sun is shining, the snow is gone, and the weather is about 70 degrees.  In other words, it is a glorious day to be outside exploring some new terrain.  I, however, am not outside, because I am on the cusp of what feels like a cold and I am trying to stay low-key enough to beat it.  I put together some of my favorite snaps from my hiking trips in my post today as I daydream about them inside with my mug of tea.

Rocky Mountain National Park…the dark clouds heralded snow.
My first ever trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. We saw plenty of the famous elk!

This view is thanks to Eldorado Canyon State Park.
Dog and I stumbled across a herd of deer at Red Rocks.

Eldorado Canyon State Park
Roxborough State Park

Estes Park and RMNP

Last weekend I finally got my chance to venture into the Rocky Mountains.  I live in the Mile High City, and it certainly is lovely to look around and see the foothills and (distantly) the mountains themselves, but nothing beats actually trekking up there.

We drove a couple of hours to get to Estes Park, which is a beautiful and very touristy area right around Rocky Mountain National Park.  We stopped for food and beer (Elktoberfest was happening), and then got waylaid at a salt water taffy shop. Needless to say, several bulging bags of the taffy were purchased.  RMNP itself is famous not only for the mountains, but also for all the elk that wander around.  It is a treat to see these large animals s up close and personal!  They have never had any reason to fear vehicles or humans since hunting is strictly verboten.  We got lucky and saw some on the outskirts of the park as we were driving up, and then again when they cross the road right in front of our vehicle!  We saw mule deer hanging out oh-so-casually alongside traffic too.  Then of course, there were the mountains.  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.  Just picture rapidly dropping temps and winds strong enough to make me stumble backwards.

At Home at Lake Wingra

When I moved to Madison in 2008 I was pretty excited that my college was located right on Lake Wingra.  Now, Lake Wingra is much smaller lake than it’s siblings in the Yahara River basin.  “Wingra” is a Ho-Chunk name meaning duck- how thrilling.  No bones about it, this lake is small and a little dirty compared to Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, but it has a nice homey feel.   The other lakes are so big…and well…crowded.  Living on an isthmus makes one a little snobby about lakes (we’re entitled, okay?  Besides being on an isthmus we’re in a state surrounded by the two largest of the Great Lakes).

It’s been a few years and I’ve moved out and around the city a few times.  I find myself back in the same area since earlier this year though.  My little studio apartment is within walking distance of the lake, the boathouse, the boardwalk behind campus, and the surrounding arboretum.  Yesterday evening I had some time and the weather was beautiful so I picked up a Gouda sandwich from my favorite coffee shop, packed my camera, a book, and headed out.  The boardwalk behind my old campus it heavily forested and I trekked through the woods for a while before discovering a new little boat dock that had been built since my departure.  It was cute and quiet: perfect.

There was a college football game going on and the stadium is just minutes away from this spot.  Luckily the woods block out most of the noise so it wasn’t hard to forget about all the hubbub going on.

The fish were quite excited to get some tomato cast offs from my sandwhich.  I leaned over to take a photo of them and ended up with no fish (well, they are there, but you have to look reeeaalllly closely to see them) but a cool self portrait.

It wasn’t a perfect day preceding the lake adventure, but I thought hey, why not end on a good note?
*Post Scriptum: I found some chicken eggs arranged in the woods near the lake shore.  It was very Jurassic Park.

Who does this?! Are there tiny velocirapotrs running around?